Getting closer...shoulder pain....

Hey Phoenix!

So I ended up replacing the 3" latex top with a 2" top (22ild) per our previous conversation. Core is still 6" 33 ild. Got the appropriate sized cover and the bed is much better.

I’m feeling pretty good about the current set up, but my wife is having some shoulder pain when she sleeps on her side. She says she’s okay on her back, but she ends up sleeping on her side 20% of the night.

We could exchange the top for 2" 19ild comfort layer. This would potentially take some pressure off of my wife’s shoulder. Probably make the bed a big more comfortable too. It is a tad hard, in my opinion. A little extra plushness wouldn’t bother me as long as the support didn’t change much. I’m not having any pain in the current configuration, but I wouldn’t call it luxurious feeling exactly.

Would changing the top layer require an increase in the support layers ILD or would we just sink into the support layer sooner? When I just slept on the support layer by itself it wasn’t too bad. I’m just concerned about the bed getting too soft and getting back pain like I had with the 3" 22ild topper.

Is there an point in just putting a topper on top of what we have just to reduce pressure points a bit? Like just an inch or super soft latex or something similar?

We pretty close, but we don’t LOVE our bed yet. Your help, as always, is appreciated!



Hi Mike,

Just to add the reference here (and save me from looking it up each time) and for the benefit of those who may be similar … I’ll add your “specs” to my reply.

With a 2" 22 ILD comfort layer over the 33 ILD core … the top layer is probably a little on the firm side for her both in terms of thickness and ILD. What I mean by this is that 22 ILD is probably on the upper end of softness that would work well for her but in combination with the reduced layer thickness the firmness of the top 3" isn’t allowing her shoulders to sink in enough for optimal pressure relief and she is “hitting” the layer below.

Because you are heavier … the same layering is probably “just OK” because the very top part of the support core is acting soft enough for your heavier weight (part of your “comfort zone”) but for her it’s just too firm and she’s not isolated enough from it.

If you lower the ILD of the top layer … it may make things even worse for her because she may “go through” the comfort layer even more easily and feel more of the transition into the layer below it. Some ultra firm mattresses are made this way with super soft foam over a very firm innerspring and the softness and thinness of the top foam brings the firmness of the innerspring more into play. For her the support core is “firmer” than it is for your heavier weight. The difference between 19 and 22 is also so small that it isn’t likely to make nearly as much difference as the change in layer thickness made. Had I been making a change … I would have been tempted to keep the 3" layer thickness and firm up the core on your side for support. How did she feel with the 3" layer?

To increase pressure relief for her … you would likely need to add a thin soft layer to bring her back closer to 3" and also soften up the top. If this was very soft … then it would also allow you to sink through it more easily and it would add a little bit of “cush” and not have any significant effect on support since both your shoulders and pelvis would be going through it. In other words … a thin very soft layer could work well for both of you. If it was firm enough to “hold up” your upper body but not your heavier pelvis … then it would have a more negative effect on your overall alignment. This is the reason along with hand feel why so many manufacturers use a quilting layer of thin ultra plush foam in the quilting layers.

“Luxurious” would probably be in the direction of a thicker and softer top layer over a firmer core.

What type of cover is the new one … stretch and unquilted or wool quilted?


Thanks Phoenix!

We were both experiencing back pain when we had the 3" 22ild top on there. Changing to 2" made a huge difference on that front. For me I think the 3 inch top was letting my hips drop way too low and I think it may have for my wife as well.

Adding a thin layer seems to be a good option. The cover on the bed is quilted wool. Spec’d at 1.5 inches, but in reality its more like a quarter inch or maybe half. Not sure what the 1.5 inch refers too, but the top of the cover is definitely not that thick. I do still have the 9" cover, so I could add an inch of 14 ild latex…or perhaps I could get the 1" piece inside the current 8" cover. Its not super tight on top so perhaps it would accommodate another inch of latex? Do you know a source for 1 inch 14ild latex?

The other option that would probably be cheaper and easier would be to get a thicker mattress pad. Any suggestions for that?


Hi Mike S,

Part of the challenge of mattress design … as you know … is that much of it seems to be counterintuitive on the “surface”.

An example of this is the effect of layer thickness and how it works in combination with the softness of a layer and the thickness and softness of the layers above and below it (including the quilting/ticking). The layers are “interactive” with different people in different ways depending on sometimes small differences in weight distribution, body shape, and even small variances in sleeping positions which can create different very different weight distributions on a mattress.

In most cases … the relative depth of sinking between different parts of the body can create better or worse alignment rather than how much each part sinks in by itself. For example … a thicker 3" layer that has a slightly higher ILD and is “holding up” the wider lighter/greater surface area parts of the body but is still soft enough to have little effect on how deep the pelvis sinks (which will go through to the deeper layers anyway) can create misalignment. In cases like this … a softer layer on top can help the lighter parts with more surface area sink in a little more and create better alignment because the hips are mostly controlled by the firmer layer underneath that they come to rest on. This is especially true with foams that have a higher compression modulus.

The same foam that will “allow” one person to sink through it to different degrees may “stop” another person from sinking in enough in their lighter areas. Different “parts” of different people will either be “allowed” to sink or “stopped” from sinking at different levels of the same mattress. In effect … the same foam that can be “supportive” to one (the layer that they mostly come to rest on) and “pressure relieving” for another (a layer that compresses more deeply and goes through into the layers below). All of this of course is also determined by the “gaps” that need to be filled in and how much of the surface area of each person is taking on the load and relieving pressure from other more “protruding” areas. This is where the “art” of mattress construction takes over from the science.

It is usually very important to pay close attention to the interaction of layer thickness, layer ILD, and how deeply a certain part of a person is likely to sink into a mattress rather than each element by itself. Because of the infinite variables involved in body shape, weight distribution, and minor but important differences in sleeping positions … this is more part of the “art” of mattress construction.

In your case … I believe that a very soft extra layer will have little effect on your alignment and give some extra “cush” while for your wife who is lighter this same soft layer will help to isolate her from the firmness of the support layers which is likely the cause of her pressure.

Because you spend time on your stomach and this is in direct opposition of the needs of side sleeping … a thinner comfort layer makes sense to keep you closer to the support layers so any additional layers will need to be much softer to allow you to get to the support layers more easily.

The wool quilting in your mattress uses 1.5" of “loose” wool which is then compressed or densified into a thinner layer so it can act as a fire retardent. This too will play a role in how the mattress behaves.

So overall … my “gut” says a thin and very soft additional layer (softer than the 22 ILD that you eliminated) may well provide what both of you may need to move you closer to your ideal. Adding this on top will allow it to be softer while adding it into the cover will compress the upper layers more and increase the firmness slightly … and either may work well.

The only source of 1" of latex that I know in talalay (dunlop would be firmer) is Sleep Like a Bear. Other options could also be various other toppers that use either polyfoam or memory foam. These are widely available but some good sources are in the topper thread here. Thicker layers of wool that aren’t compressed and will provide more cushioning of the protruding parts rather than improve pressure relief “as a whole” throughout the whole surface of the body may also be a good choice but this is a more expensive option and while a well made thicker wool topper is quite resilient and will hold it’s softness for longer than other fibers, it will also eventually compress and become firmer.

Another option may be the “laNoodle” latex topper which is very soft and can be “re-fluffed” if the latex noodles shift. Because they more “flow” around you … they can provide extra softness without compromising support much like a very soft latex layer.

Lots of options … but it all seems to be more about “fine tuning” than it is about basic construction.


As always, thanks for your insights!

Everything you’re saying makes sense to me. It is amazing that we liked our old bed so long considering we just bought a bet that felt good in the store! Haha.

I think I’m going to get a 1" piece of 14 or 15ild. I asked the manufacturer of my mattress if they have any, but I’m guessing they don’t and I’ll have to get it from SLAB. It seems pretty pricey for one inch of foam, but it sounds like it might give us the tweak we need.

SLAB has Talatech and Celsion. Do you have any thoughts about these? Celsion supposedly regulates body temperature better, and I’m a hot sleeper, so I’m intrigued. Not sure if really matters and it is a little more expensive.

I’d actually have 3 options for installing foam: 1) just lay it on top - This seems easy, but I’d be a little concerned about durability just being under a sheet and a mattress pad. 2) Shove it in my 8" cover - second easiest thing, but I’m not sure I want to compress the foam inside the cover all the time. 3) Unpack the 9" cover from the box I put it in and rebuild the whole bed. Kind of a pain since the other cover is wrapped up with the other top I need to return, but it may provide the best final product…I guess I can try the first 2 and if I’m unsatisfied I can go from there.